Textual Analysis of T.C. Boyle's "She Wasn't Soft"

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Lauren Luxenberg
Professor Altenburg
September 22, 2010
Textual Analysis Essay

Textual Analysis of “She Wasn’t Soft”
Throughout T.C. Boyle’s short story “She Wasn’t Soft”, the author introduces a spiked cup of Gatorade at the story’s end to symbolize Jason’s unhealthy approach and attitude toward his relationship with Paula. The author weaves a satirical theme to prove that people who stay in unhealthy relationships to maintain a sense of control and empowerment in the world never get what they want. The Gatorade symbolizes Jason’s primary motivations: his own pleasure and the need for control. These mischievous motives have a detrimental effect, not only on himself, but also on his relationship with Paula. Jason does not plan the spiked Gatorade scheme out of a selfless desire to make Paula lose, but rather to make Paula forgive him. This thought process is clearly laid out when the narrator states, “What would make her happy, glad to see him, ready to party, celebrate, dance till dawn, and let bygones be bygones?” (Boyle 167). Since Paula’s wish to beat Zinny came from her desire to prove to herself that she was the best, she would likely be infuriated by the thought of defeating Zinny unfairly. Jason’s selfishness proves that his only motivation for continuing the relationship is for his own pleasure. Thus the tainted Gatorade is showcased as the physical manifestation of Jason’s self- centered pleasure seeking. Though the Gatorade starts out as nothing more than a symbol of Jason’s selfish reasons and methods for wanting Paula to take him back, it evolves to illustrate the major satirical theme of the story; people making poor choices because of a desire for a sense of power. Jason does whatever he can to take control of any situation he is in throughout the course of the story. The examples of this behavior are almost constant. First Jason lies to Paula about his birthday and bribes her with “carb-loading” at the Pasta Bowl, which is routine before...
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